In The News

India monsoon season rainfall 41 percent below average

Five weeks into India’s annual monsoon season, the rain seems to have missed the memo as precipitation is 41 percent below average, Reuters reported . This marks the first month of the rainy season as the driest in five years. The Asian nation’s economy is closely tied with the increased rainfall expected between June and September. Lack of precipitation can reduce exports, inflate food prices and lower consumer demand for a variety of industries. Half of India’s farmland relies on rain for water. One of the world’s largest producers of rice, corn, sugar and cotton, farming accounts for 14 percent of India’s gross domestic product.

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Global soil moisture mapped from satellite tools

Since the summer of 2011, NASA’s Aquarius instrument has monitored soil moisture across the globe. NASA recently released a series of maps derived from that data, according to a NASA press release . Soil moisture is a vital part of the Earth’s water cycle, as it is necessary for plant life and impacts the global climate system. Scientists can use the new soil moisture maps to prepare for droughts and floods, and to predict agricultural output. The NASA Soil Moisture Active Passive mission will soon complement Aquarius, providing 10 times the spatial resolution of the current instrument. The European Space Agency is conducting a similar mission called Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity.

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Everglades restoration report calls for ongoing monitoring program with stable funding

The latest in a series of progress reports on a multibillion-dollar, long-term plan to restore the flagging Everglades ecosystem cites modest gains amidst bureaucratic and budgetary obstacles. The report also recommends a budget-proof, continuous monitoring program to capture changes in the system, whether they're brought on by restoration projects or other influences like climate change. "We feel like it's time to take a look to see if they're measuring all the right things and measuring them at the right frequency," said Jeffrey Walters, chair of the Committee on the Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration Progress, the body responsible for the biennial reports.

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